“Yoga is not about touching your toes, it is what you learn on the way down.”
Yoga has become such a huge part of the world we live in today. There are yoga studios everywhere, yoga magazines, and more yoga DVD’s than I can even begin to count. Many people have this idea that yoga is this vigorous exercise that requires one to be extremely flexible. I used to believe the same thing. The thought of exercising scared me enough, I could not imagine doing the yoga poses I saw on the covers of magazines or the stretches I saw on the television. Many people do practice yoga to get the ‘yoga body’ so to speak, however many people like myself utlilize yoga because it truly is a way of life. I learn more from what the instructors say either in a class or on a DVD than I do in yoga positions such as downward facing dog.
There is a huge correlation between chronic pain and anxiety. I have had anxiety since I was a little girl but that anxiety only intensified once I fell off of my bike and ended up with chronic pain. ANYONE can practice yoga. There are so many benefits, its a no brainer that we all (chronic pain or not) should be practicing this form of ‘exercise.’ Here are a few of the benefits I have found through practicing yoga. I only started utilizing yoga in my daily life after I made the decision to manage pain naturally and accepted my invisible illness that I no longer look for a cure for.
- Stretching: part of my routine for managing pain is stretching in the morning. Yoga kills two birds with one stone. I have yoga DVDs that are solely based on morning stretches and morning affirmations. I am not only stretching my body, which we all need to do if we have chronic pain but I am hearing the affirmations I will use throughout the day that will have a positive impact on my mood/anxiety/chronic pain.
- Self Esteem: People with chronic pain often times have a very low self esteem. Anyone reading this with chronic pain knows what I am talking about. My self esteem was so low due to chronic pain years ago that I literally hated myself and there is nothing more detrimental or life threatening than self hatred. Yoga teaches us that we need to focus on ourselves and our health. Yoga does not teach us to look awesome in a bikini but teaches us that the more we feel good on the inside the better we will look on the outside. Do you ever just see certain people and the first thing you notice is their smile and genuine happiness? There are many times I notice these attributes on a person before I even glance at the color of their hair. People radiate light and energy and I have found that yoga has helped me focus more on the inside of myself than the outside.
- Friendships: Some of the greatest people I have ever met have been in a yoga class. I met one of my dearest friends in a yoga class two years before my daughter was born and we remain friends. I find most (not all) people in yoga classes are the most non-judge mental, empathetic, good hearted people I know. One has to find the right yoga studio and class that fits in with their own personality and self. I think every yoga studio should have a sign outside that says: “Non judgement zone” because I have never felt judged or looked at differently at any yoga studio to date. I remember going to my first class many years ago and I was beyond scared. I am/was one of the most un-flexible people in the world and was frightened people would make fun of me. Quite the contrary: I was welcomed with open arms and literally felt love and positive energy radiate from the classroom. One class and I was hooked.
- Flexibility: Sure, yoga is a form of exercise that stretches our muscles and over time we are able to surrender into poses we once thought to be impossible. However, I am speaking of the flexibility of the mind. The teachings of yoga have truly changed the way I think about the world and more importantly myself. Yoga has helped me see myself differently and in a good way. I have never regretted practicing yoga and seem to learn something different from each class or video.
- There are thousands of videos of yoga for pain relief. There is chair yoga if one wants to start very easily. Yoga comes in every shape, size, and form because it is more for the mind than for the body. Our thoughts become things and the more we listen to positivity and words of wisdom, the less our minds are brought to pain. It is the mind body connection.
I am a very up-beat, anxious, high energy person and it takes a lot for me to slow down. I was very fired up this morning and my mind really wanted to do a cardio/weight lifting exercise routine but I listened to my body and intuition and ended up practicing yoga for stress relief. That is why I ended up sharing this post with my readers. Yoga helps me to slow down and remember what is important. It is an added bonus that without even realizing it, yoga does help my pain levels. As my dad always says: “Ya cannot lose what you don’t have.” Give it a shot.